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Effect of Dietary Seaweed Supplementation in Cows on Milk Macrominerals, Trace Elements and Heavy Metal Concentrations


Newton, E.E., Pétursdóttir, Á.H., Ríkharðsson, G., Beaumal, C., Desnica, N., Giannakopoulou, K., Juniper, D., Ray, P., Stergiadis, S.






This study investigated the effect of seaweed supplementation in dairy cow diets on milk yield, basic composition, and mineral concentrations. Thirty-seven Icelandic cows were split into three diet treatments: control (CON, no seaweed), low seaweed (LSW, 0.75% concentrate dry matter (DM), 13–40 g/cow/day), and high seaweed (HSW, 1.5% concentrate DM, 26–158 g/cow/day). Cows were fed the same basal diet of grass silage and concentrate for a week, and then were introduced to the assigned experimental diets for 6 weeks. The seaweed mix of 91% Ascophyllum nodosum: 9% Laminaria digitata (DM basis), feed, and milk samples were collected weekly. Data were analyzed using a linear mixed effects model, with diet, week, and their interaction as fixed factors, cow ID as random factor, and the pre-treatment week data as a covariate. When compared with CON milk, LSW and HSW milk had, respectively, less Se (−1.4 and −3.1 μg/kg milk) and more I (+744 and +1649 μg/kg milk), while HSW milk also had less Cu (−11.6 μg/kg milk) and more As (+0.17 μg/kg milk) than CON milk. The minimal changes or concentrations in milk for Se, Cu, and As cannot be associated with any effects on consumer nutrition, but care should be taken when I-rich seaweed is fed to cows to avoid excessive animal I supply and milk I concentrations.